POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE (CBS SF) — Thousands of chubby marine worms have washed ashore on Drakes Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore following the recent storms.

The fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo) is a type of spoon worm also known as a “penis fish” due to its distinctively phallic appearance.

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Bay Nature magazine reported the mass stranding on Wednesday, saying strong storms – especially during El Niño years – can break up intertidal zones and leave their contents stranded on shore.

Bay Nature said the same phenomena has been reported over the years at Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, Pajaro Dunes in Santa Cruz County, Moss Landing in Monterey County, and Princeton Harbor in San Mateo County.

Fat innkeeper worm (Urechis caupo), also known as “penis fish.” (Jerry Kirkhart /CC BY 2.0}

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Fat innkeeper worms burrow in the sand muddy sand and feed on detritus. The U-shaped tunnel it creates often becomes a shelter for other marine critters, which gives the innkeeper worm its name.

Otters, sharks, gulls and other animals prey on the worm, and they are sold as food in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries.

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